A view of the Gwadar port. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: China took control of Pakistan's Gwadar port on Monday as part of its drive to secure energy and maritime routes that also gives it a potential Arabian Sea naval base, sparking Indian concern.

“The contract of operation of Gwadar port is formally given to China. Today, the agreement is transferred from the Port of Singapore Authority to China Overseas Ports Holding Company Limited,” President Asif Ali Zardari announced.

“The award of this contract opens new opportunities for our people... It gives new impetus to Pakistan-China relations,” added Zardari in a speech broadcast live on television.

On January 30 the Pakistani cabinet approved the transfer of Gwadar, currently a commercial failure cut off from the national road network, from PSA International to the state-owned China company.

The Pakistanis pitched the deal as offering an energy and trade corridor that would connect China to the Arabian Sea and Strait of Hormuz, a gateway for a third of the world's traded oil, overland through an expanded Karakoram Highway.

Experts say it would cut thousands of kilometres off the distance which oil and gas imports from Africa and the Middle East have to travel to reach China.

China paid about 75 per cent of the initial $250 million used to build the port but in 2007 PSA International won a 40-year operating lease. Then-ruler Pervez Musharraf was reportedly unwilling to upset Washington by giving control of the port to the Chinese.

On February 6 Indian Defence Minister AK Antony said New Delhi was concerned by Pakistan's decision to transfer management of the deep-sea port to China, which has interests in a string of other ports encircling India.

Follow Dawn Business on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook for insights on business, finance and tech from Pakistan and across the world.

Opinion

Editorial

Silencing the public
Updated 21 Feb, 2024

Silencing the public

Acting as if it is unaccountable, it is now curtailing citizens’ digital rights without even bothering to come up with a justification.
Fitch’s concern
Updated 21 Feb, 2024

Fitch’s concern

It warns that “near-term political uncertainty may complicate the country’s efforts to secure a financing agreement with the IMF to succeed the Stand-by Arrangement”.
Zoo zealotry
Updated 21 Feb, 2024

Zoo zealotry

IN a bizarre twist of faith and fur, the Indian right-wing Hindu nationalist group, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has...
Open the books
Updated 20 Feb, 2024

Open the books

Irregularities have been so widespread that even otherwise impartial observers are joining the chorus of voices demanding a recount.
BRICS candidacy
Updated 20 Feb, 2024

BRICS candidacy

For Pakistan to successfully join BRICS or compete in other arenas internationally, the political instability at home needs to be addressed.
Pneumonia menace
20 Feb, 2024

Pneumonia menace

PANIC is on the rise as the alarming surge in pneumonia cases has created an explosion of headlines — sans...